For those you thinking about a degree after college, or who are on the fence about what they want to do next, here’s Alice, with her views on university open days and applicant days. Using her personal experiences of finishing her college course and preparing for her next steps, Alice also talks about what to expect on an applicant day.
An integral part of the process
The university application process is a bit of a wild ride. You open up that UCAS account, painstakingly fill out the boring sections about where you live, if other people in your family have a degree, then get onto the fun part of picking your choices and learning about the universities you might have an interest in attending. However, websites and brochures only going to give you half the picture.
Where do you get that other half of the picture? On Applicant Days.
These are less-crowded than Open Days. They’re designed for those who’ve been offered a place come September, or October depending on how the particular university schedules their semesters.
Today’s blog is in defence of these applicant days. Why you should attend them, either virtually or in person, covid restrictions permitting in the near future.
My experience at an applicant visit day (and any open day) is dated due to being pre-covid. It’s important to disclaim that so you don’t go into an open day expecting exactly the same experience.
My applicant day took place in March of the year I was going to uni, but they run all year round. My university are running one for new students in May this year.
Prior to the applicant day I had visited an open day that let me tour the campus, talk to a few tutors and receive my offer.
The applicant day consisted of another talk and more talking to tutors. But the meat and potatoes came in a taster session that should run similar to any virtual applicant day.
I was first in the room, and one by one other people in my position began to slip in until the classroom reflected the cohort I’m in now! Therefore, it’s important to attend that applicant day, even if it’s virtual. You’re going to see faces that you’ll probably also see when your very first semester starts!
Worry not about the taster session
For myself as a marketing student it was mostly just discussing brands we liked and the qualities of them that we liked. Then the lecturer would apply some theory to that and begin to open us up to looking at these things from an academic standpoint.
I’m sure taster sessions are different per course and per university though, so don’t assume that’s all you’d be doing.
If your university doesn’t do the taster sessions this year due to covid, don’t stress too much. Often there will be university Facebook groups for each course or department. You can virtually meet other people you may be studying with come September.
I know at my university, they’re changing the taster sessions into a series of breakout rooms. Here, you can speak to different teams like the Money Advice Team, Careers and Accommodation to name just three.
I can speak all day about the benefits of an applicant or open day, so much so I’ve written about it for my university! However, in the interest of making sure you can grasp the key points, I’m going to make this section quickfire.
At my applicant visit day as I mentioned, a lot of the people who attended are now in my classes at university, and they are also my friends. The two people I talked with most on that day are my two best friends now. So you will make connections with people even if its virtual.
This is where it’s good to try to get contact details too so you can keep up communication before you start, giving you some friends at the university you’re attending.
Sadly, with Covid, touring campuses isn’t often an option, so do make use of any virtual tours offered. It doesn’t beat seeing the campus and all its facilities first hand, but it can give you a good understanding of where everything is, and help you on your way with getting around. If there’s a map made available save it and keep it, I had to use a map the whole of my first semester at university when I lived on campus!
Finally, you can ask questions even if you think they’re stupid questions. I remember asking a marketing tutor what the best accommodation is on campus, which was obviously a question he couldn’t answer properly, but he was able to relay some of the stuff his students that year had said.
How to look out for these days
Universities will often contact you if there is an applicant day or open day coming up if they have your email. You can often register your interest on the website for open days if you are yet to fill out a UCAS application. This is a good thing to do. Being ahead of the game about where you want to go even before you start the UCAS application is never a bad thing.
Walsall College also run open days of their own for the university level courses they offer. So if you’re unsure on what you want to do after your current course ends it’s always a good idea to check those out. The next is in June, more information can be found on the website or by asking tutors!
Definitely always have these days in the back of your mind. They can often be the deciding factor on if you’re going to university after college or not.